[blindkid] Community track

Susan Harper sueharper at firstchurchgriswold.org
Fri Apr 9 16:51:57 UTC 2010

Boy, I just read my email, dashed off in haste as I was leaving this
morning.  Must be the rain.  My brain is not fully engaged today!
Sue H.

On Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 10:52 AM, Albert J Rizzi <albert at myblindspot.org>wrote:

> Sue just made me think of another option, here in new york we have a
> department/division of human rights. They are a  bureaucracy but a
> complaint
> filed would most certainly help others who come to the track after your son
> does. Work hard to include those who will follow you and your son as the
> trail blazers here so one less family may avoid being marginalized and kept
> out of such options in their life.
> Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed.
> CEO/Founder
> My Blind Spot, Inc.
> 90 Broad Street - 18th Fl.
> New York, New York  10004
> www.myblindspot.org
> PH: 917-553-0347
> Fax: 212-858-5759
> "The person who says it cannot be done, shouldn't interrupt the one who is
> doing it."
> Visit us on Facebook LinkedIn
> -----Original Message-----
> From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
> Behalf Of Susan Harper
> Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 8:30 AM
> To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)
> Subject: Re: [blindkid] Community track
>     Well one would think that times would change, but there are always some
> hold overs.  We had this problem with out son and school sports about 25
> years ago.  He had Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus and used crutches.  But
> he
> was awesome at soccer (he used his crutches instead of feet) and had a
> runner for him for baseball.  We got his orthopedic doctor to write a
> letter
> stating he was fit to play.  He was denied, with much the excuses,
> underline
> excuses, that you are hearing.  We worked with Office of Civil Right and
> they took care of it and he played.  He did lose half the first season, but
> he played.  Irregardless of disabilities, children have a need to just be
> children.  The coaches and other parents were super supportive, it was the
> administration because of liability.  Your son can not be discriminated
> against because of his disability.
>      Contact your local office of Civil Rights.  You can probably do that
> on line now.  For starters just provide the information that they give you
> and if that doesn't resolve the issue, then you will have to decide how far
> you take this.  Starting with the education is always the best, before the
> big guns.  I suspect you intuition is right on.  I just am appalled that
> this is still going on, although I shouldn't.  Let us know how this turns
> out.
> Blessings,
> Sue H.
> On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 11:29 PM, Carly B <barnesraiser at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi all! I'm an avid reader of this list and I am so impressed with the
> > excellent advice and support that's offered here! So I'm coming to you
> for
> > a
> > bit of that for our family. We adopted our son Brian two years ago. He
> has
> > albinism and with it, low vision. He is 7 years old and in 1st grade. We
> > signed him up for community Track this spring. He had his first practice
> > tonight. In an effort to create a comfortable adjustment, I contacted the
> > coach (it's a husband/wife team, and I spoke with the wife) and asked her
> > if
> > I could tell her a little bit about our son. We had a very pleasant,
> > hour-long conversation. She has a teaching background, a son with a
> > disability, and seemed very understanding, warm, and willing to be
> > accomodating. That said, I didn't ask for any "unusual" accomodations,
> like
> > equipment or a one-on-one coach. His needs actually relate more to his
> > having been institutionalized for the first five years of his life, and
> he
> > is still playing catch-up in terms of skills like jumping with both feet
> > and
> > landing with both feet, as well as other coordination skills. I mentioned
> > that he has a strong aversion to loud sounds, especially sudden sounds,
> and
> > that he cannot stand the sound of the gun. I said that I want him to
> > participate in practices but not in meets, and that in the next year or
> so
> > when he is better able to tolerate the gun then he can start attending
> > meets. For now, I just want him to have the peer experience and hopefully
> > gain some skill and confidence. She said she thought that was an
> excellent
> > idea.
> >
> > Well, when I arrived at practice, the Track Commissioner was there. She
> > came
> > over and greeted me, and then proceeded to explain to me that she is
> quite
> > concerned about Brian's safety and the safety of the other players. She
> > mentioned this at least three times in the course of our 45-minute
> > conversation. I was shocked... will I ever stop being shocked? She also
> > said
> > that the "Board" has a policy on the website (implying strongly that I
> > should have known about it and read it ahead of time) that requires any
> > child with special needs must have a written request for accomodations.
> > (She
> > had a copy with her. It's dated December, 1998) It states that the
> request
> > must be made in writing, it must include "the child's name, parent's
> names,
> > the sport, diagnosis and its affect on the child's ability to participate
> > in
> > the sport, as well as the type of acommodation requested" and must be
> > submitted to the Board, and that "No request for accommodation will be
> > considered if these procedures are not followed." In other words, my
> > calling
> > the coach to discuss Brian ahead of time was woefully insufficient. The
> > policy also states: "Reasonable accomodations are actions, which can be
> > taken that will not place undue hardship on the association and its
> > members.
> > No accommodation will be granted which will expose any participant to an
> > undue risk of harm." As far as I could determine, this policy has not
> been
> > updated since 1998. (I should add that I'm pretty certain that the
> > Commissioner involved herself when the coach contacted her to ask about
> > whether there was any other signal they could use other than the gun.
> This
> > was a suggestion the coach made to me in our conversation, not the other
> > way
> > around, and I specifically said this probably wasn't fair to ask for and
> > something I wouldn't expect. I think she was bending over backwards to
> > accomodate us, and asked the Commissioner about it on our behalf... hence
> > the visit to practice tonight.)
> >
> > The Commissioner mentioned that "special needs" are her "area" but when I
> > asked for specifics, she said she is an elementary school
> paraprofessional
> > working with kids who have autism, ADHD, EBD and the like but has never
> > worked with a blind or low vision child before. I tried to take this as
> an
> > opportunity to educate, but it was not easy. She was the most ignorant
> and
> > resistant person I've come into contact with to date. In the course of
> our
> > conversation, she stressed that her coaches are all volunteers and that
> it
> > was very unfair to think that they should accomodate Brian in any way.
> She
> > added that many of them would probably quit if a child like Brian were to
> > enroll on their team. She admitted, however, that Brian's coach didn't
> > complain about anything I had told her about Brian and did not seem
> unduly
> > concerned. I told her that it was never my intention to drop and go, and
> > that I would be doing much of the accomodating myself. (I had said this
> to
> > the coach in our earlier conversation.) Toward the end of our
> conversation,
> > she added that she is also very concerned about how other parents will
> feel
> > when they see Brian in Track. Then she said, "You know what I mean, I'm
> > sure." I said, "Actually, I really haven't met anyone who has been
> > concerned
> > about Brian in that way." She seemed very fixated on the idea that
> Brian's
> > presence creates some kind of grave danger for everyone involved.
> >
> > I am wondering specifically if ADA or IDEA address what in my opinion is
> a
> > draconian policy, and whether this organization falls under the umbrella
> of
> > either. It's a community sports organization which as far as I can tell,
> > doesn't receive any funding from the school district, but does use the
> > public school facilities. I'm not thinking about bringing legal action,
> but
> > I like to know what the law provides, more as an opportunity to educate,
> > not
> > to bully.
> >
> > Thanks in advance for any thoughts. God bless! --Carolynn Barnes
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